My car broke down yesterday. In the middle of traffic. On a major road. It was a warm, sunny day and the car decided to stop where it was in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
It was the clutch. (My fault for driving a manual.) A clutch is supposed to operate in two phases: in and out. My clutch does phase one very well. It sinks obediently to the floor of the car when I press on it. But it seems to have trouble with phase two. Once it is sitting in the floor, it does not always like to come back up again.
So yesterday the clutch sank into the floor and refused to come back up. I tapped it with my foot. Sometimes, when it gets stuck like that, I can nudge it back up with my foot. Not this time. I tapped that clutch repeatedly, all to no avail. I got persuasive. I pounded that clutch with all my strength. I dug my foot into that pedal over and over. But stubborn as I was, the clutch was stubboner. It was dead.
I put the hazard lights on and called NRMA for roadside assistance. I told them I needed a tow. I was already causing major delays on the highway and cars were overtaking me constantly. As a truck went around me, I heard a bang. I thought he had hit the rear of my car.
I stood outside in the hot sun for fear of being hit again. As I waited for the tow truck to arrive, watching the endless stream of cars pull around me, I had an interesting experience. Several drivers stopped and asked if I was ok.
You have to understand that this is Sydney. Drivers are, at best, stressed, agitated and running late. At worst, Sydney drivers are aggressive, rude and downright dangerous. It is unheard of in my driving experience for drivers to be friendly.
But there it was: three drivers, one after the other, pulled up to check if I needed anything. “I’m ok,” I told them gratefully, “I’ve rung for a tow.” They went on their way and I was left quietly thanking God for their generosity.
A passing NRMA van pulled over and the driver got out. “Need a tow?” he enquired. Did I ever! I explained I already had a tow truck coming but he offered to tow me around the corner, off the highway and out of harm’s way, while I waited for my tow. I was relieved. I accepted his kind offer with alacrity.
It got me thinking about life. Life can be hard when we have a breakdown, and even more so when we are alone. I thought about how difficult it can be for single people to get by and how important it is to have the support of others. I thought about the isolation so often experienced by childless people, those with disabilities, people with mental health issues; indeed, most of us. How important it is when life breaks down that we have people around us who stop what they are doing and say, “Need a tow?”
I eventually got my tow to the local mechanic. I am grateful to those who helped me out on the road and to those who offered to help. Because we all have days when we need a tow.
Are there times in life when you need a tow? When was the last time someone towed you out of trouble? Was it a friend, colleague or God?